Smart Tourism: The Future of the Sector is Technological
Smart cities are booming and are positioned as the perfect option for future processes of massive urbanization and sustainable models that companies and government agencies are currently pursuing.
This new paradigm offers the tourism sector a wide range of business opportunities and new ways of creating value to its offer. We tell you what it consists of, what the role of technology will be, and its future forecasts.
What is Smart Tourism
Smart tourism is defined as the dynamic connection of human experiences with smart technologies. It is closely linked to the development of Smart Cities and goes hand in hand with improvements in technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, IoT, Big Data, or 5G.
The goal of smart tourism is to improve the efficiency of resource management, maximize competitiveness and enhance sustainability through the use of innovative technologies. Therefore, more and more destinations are joining this modernization of their operations, from payment methods to various interactive activities.
Smart Cities and Tourism
The Smart Cities boom is impacting many industries, and one of them is tourism, which is increasingly moving towards a smart destination model.
As I said above, the development of smart tourism goes hand in hand with the growth of Smart Cities. These cities aim to improve the quality of life of their inhabitants, in addition to creating more sustainable places. Therefore, smart tourism also follows these initiatives through richer and more environmentally friendly experiences.
Due to the importance of tourism as a strategic economic activity in many countries, this new way of traveling through cities is emerging. Some key points for the consolidation of smart tourism in a smart city are:
- State-of-the-art infrastructure guarantees sustainable development and promotes equitable accessibility.
- Access to free wifi in the street and public places.
- Electric mobility as an alternative to traditional transport.
- Promotion of more sustainable tourism.
- Real-time information such as traffic flow or incidents in public transport.
- Cultural and interactive activities.
Artificial Intelligence and Tourism
Artificial Intelligence has numerous applications in the tourism sector, both from the consumer and business perspective. In the first case, it helps users find the most relevant information more quickly, gives them greater mobility, improves their decision-making and provides them with a better tourism experience.
For entrepreneurs, AI helps to manage resources, especially in promotion and productivity, and also to create a more sustainable model. Some of the most common examples are:
- Recommendation systems and personalization techniques: AI makes available to users the alternatives that suit them best, with personalized suggestions for each case and reducing the infinite number of options that do not always fit. Thanks to the information made available to companies, they can build precise profiles and tailor their experiences to each case.
- Conversational systems such as chatbots and voice assistants: These systems employ technologies such as NLP and speech recognition and are very useful because users can access them at any time through a closer experience that mimics the human one. In addition, with the use of chatbots, company workers no longer have to waste time on these types of tasks and can dedicate themselves to other more important ones.
- Forecasting tools: using historical and contextual data, future estimates are made to make better decisions. In the tourism sector, it is used to understand the tourist demand of each period and place, in order to develop marketing strategies, financial management, and allocation of human resources, detect scams or support the management of facilities.
- Translation applications: one of the bases of tourism is contact with different cultures and languages. However, it is also one of the biggest barriers for tourists when choosing a destination and avoiding sources of discomfort. Machine translation makes it easier for users to navigate each destination, allowing them to explore and participate in all kinds of activities.
Smart Tourism and 5G
Thanks to the development of 5G networks, new applications based on faster communication between devices will emerge.
When applied to tourism, we are referring to solutions that can be used by travel companies or cities to attract visitors through a more attractive experience.
Changes in this sector will focus on greater personalization of services, better access to information and content, quality entertainment, and optimized operations.
On the other hand, a fast internet connection can be a key factor in whether or not a guest returns to accommodation, especially when it is a business trip. 5G solves these problems, in addition to contributing to the implementation of smart features such as lights and thermostats that are controlled from a mobile device.
It is also a fundamental technology for the proper functioning of other technologies such as augmented reality. Many museums have already included experiences with tablets or glasses that gamify the traditional experience or live tours.
In fact, it will be a fundamental factor in airports, as this technology will be very present in passenger management or aircraft maintenance. Even solutions in which artificial intelligence plays a leading role, such as assisted vision, will also enter the market.
Examples of Smart Tourism
There are more and more examples of smart tourism destinations that we can find anywhere in the world. In fact, initiatives such as the European Capital of Smart Tourism have emerged, which aims to raise awareness of smart tourism tools, measures and projects implemented in cities in four categories: sustainability, digitization and cultural heritage, accessibility, and creativity.
We have compiled some of the most striking cases, but there are many more:
- El Hierro, in Spain, has become the first smart island in the world to achieve energy self-sufficiency, in addition to reducing its pollution levels thanks to the generation of electricity from garbage, or the replacement of brick with volcanic stone in the construction sector.
- Tequila, in the Mexican state of Jalisco, offers free wifi in its historic center, has an app containing information on products and services in the area, and has a data system that informs travelers in real time about traffic and commercial activities.
- The Swedish city of Gothenburg has implemented measures to ensure the well-being of future generations. It has published a smart map that encourages citizen participation to exchange, share or rent in the city. It also has a 3D model to conduct public consultations, anticipate the impact of future development and make improved decisions. On the other hand, 60% of its district heating is based on waste or recycled heat, making it one of the most sustainable European capitals.
- Malaga is the Spanish city that stands out most in terms of accessibility. It has installed LED street lighting and has created numerous kilometers of bicycle lanes, along with several rental stations. It has also installed smart irrigation systems in parks and gardens to save water and has implemented a plan to reduce air pollution, control pollen levels, and reduce noise.
- Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, has placed special emphasis on sustainability, and 20% of its territory is made up of protected natural areas, with a focus on converting degraded sites into public spaces. It has also promoted the purchase of local products in hotels and restaurants, in addition to creating a tourism website with a wide variety of content and applications focused on responsible tourism.
- Helsinki, the capital of Finland, has designed an intelligent public transport system that has received high praise. An “Uber boat” system is now being considered and driverless buses are being tested. In addition, multilingual workers can be found stationed at the city’s main attractions, offering assistance to visitors. It has also put a focus on electric transport and aims to become carbon neutral by 2035.
- Copenhagen, the Danish capital, has made great strides in digitalization. It has launched a visitor service, where tourists can see everything the city has to offer through moving billboards, robotics or virtual reality.
- Singapore is another example of digitalization, as it has implemented solutions that encourage the development of innovative communities. There, tourists have apps that inform them about crime rates in each specific area and receive notifications about missing persons and emergency institutions or information based on their geopositioning.
Smart Tourism Applications
Smart tourism plays a crucial role in the development of smart cities, as its initiatives to attract tourists can cause a significant increase in people and vehicles. This affects traffic, in its congestion or in the difficulty of finding parking. This is why tourism and cities must work hand in hand to remedy these problems and provide a better experience for tourists and residents.
Dubai is another city that wanted to create an improved model for its inhabitants and offer a unique experience to its visitors. Therefore, it commissioned us to develop a project aimed at developing a totally innovative digital experience for the city.
We created a tool with which to manage high-resolution panoramic photos and videos, providing an automated processing and uploading system, in order to be available for viewing on a web application. You can discover all the details of Dubai 360 here.
On the other hand, with a special focus on sustainability, we created a solution for Trasmediterránea that reinforces passenger security, guarantees identity control, and increases the company’s environmental commitment by eliminating the need to print more than 5 million tickets per year.
We are specialists in creating innovative developments that transform the tourism sector towards a digitalized and interactive model. If you want to know how do not hesitate to contact us!